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Pawn shop heists have Gwinnett ties

ATLANTA - A violent robbing crew with a penchant for knocking off pawn shops could target Gwinnett stores again, an official said Friday.

Authorities want the crew stopped before the heists turn deadly.

The crew is various combinations of the same seven or eight men, who've struck Pawn Mart locations from Riverdale to Winder, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said.

The robbers have shot pawn shop employees on two occasions and Tasered others. No injuries were considered life-threatening.

They're suspected in up to eight heists, including incidents in Lilburn (Feb. 1) and Snellville (March 19). Mostly they've swiped cash from the pawn shops' safes and high-end jewelry, Bankhead said.

The GBI released surveillance photos Friday of those bandits who were unmasked.

"We're hoping the local public will recognize them," he said.

Two alleged members of the crew are in custody, Bankhead said. He wasn't able to identify them Friday.

A security firm working with the stores picked up on similarities between the robberies and the perpetrators' M.O., he said. They typically strike in the middle of the day, Bankhead said.

"We're hoping to identify these suspects, because we fear the violence might escalate and someone might get seriously injured," he said.

Also of interest to investigators is a robbery of The Big Chicken Pawn Shop in Marietta on March 4.

"The subjects captured on video, as well as the M.O. of the robbery, looks the same as the Pawn Mart robberies," Bankhead said.